Forensic FAIL at FBI — Where’s Bones when we need her?

#37053796 - Microscope © Les Cunliffe via Fotolia

#37053796 – Microscope © Les Cunliffe via Fotolia

The FBI screwed up big-time and long-time, according to all reports now surfacing. The Washington Post leads with:

“The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000.”

That’s the TV-cool evidence featured on cop dramas, like bite marks and hair follicles. The hundreds of defendants convicted at least partially on the basis of the dead-wrong evidence include some who were subsequently executed.

Beyond the FBI fail come the state fails — North Carolina, Colorado, Philadelphia, Detroit and, yes, Minnesota. St. Paul to be precise, as The Atlantic explains:

“In St. Paul, Minnesota, an independent review of the crime lab found“major errors in almost every area of the lab’s work, including the fingerprint and crime scene evidence processing that has continued after the lab’s drug testing was stopped in July. The failures include sloppy documentation, dirty equipment, faulty techniques and ignorance of basic scientific procedures ... Lab employees even used Wikipedia as a ‘technical reference’ in at least one drug case … The lab lacked any clean area designated for the review and collection of DNA evidence. “

Could it get any worse? I’m not sure how, but it probably will.

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Filed under human rights

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